“Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalms 103:2-5 NKJV)
Wow! All of that sounds too good to be true – but what if God really is like that? What if he really does give us more than we could ever ask for or deserve, and just because he wants to? This has really been getting me lately, so when I read this passage from the Bible recently, the last sentence (which is bolded above) really got me scratching my head. How is an eagle’s youth renewed?
Well, Google helped a bit, and I found this blog post from a bird-watcher/theologian: http://leesbird.com/2009/09/25/b-o-b-eagle-renewal/
What really got me the most from the blogger’s insights is that an eagle’s feathers are completely changed out multiple times in its life, and each change suits the season of life that the bird is in.
This correlates to our lives, too. A very popular saying of our day is that we need to accept people “just the way they are.” And, like most sayings, it definitely has some truth to it. As a Christian, I have to be extremely grateful that God accepts me “just the way I am.” I would have no hope otherwise, because He is a holy (completely perfect, spotless) God and without a mediator I am completely separated from him (actually we all are – Romans 3:23) because of my sin and disobedience to his perfect ways. As humans, I think it is also very valuable and important to not have prejudice against each other since we all are in the same boat and have a common ground – life on this earth.
But there is another side to this “coin.” A good parent fully accepts and loves his/her child “just as they are.” But what good parent would want to see their child in diapers and eating baby food for the rest of their lives? You see, to generously accept someone and to also desire for them to improve and become greater is not antithetical. God desires for me to change and mold and mature, but that does not mean he loves me any less right now or will love me any more down the line during my “growing process.”
Just like the eagle, we each need to start over (sometimes from scratch) in our lives, especially in our relationship with God. And the good thing is, he gives us everything we need so that we can go with him to the place he’s preparing for us. Yes, there are things and habits in my life I need to give up. There are “old feathers” I need to take off and “new ones” I need to put on. There might be attitude changes that need to occur, my mind probably needs to be transformed, and there could be relationships that need to begin, be broken off, or mended. But our God leads us in these things not because he’s doing a big science experiment, but because he truly wants what is best for us as his beloved creations, and he knows how to get us there.
Please stop believing the lie that “you can just get by” with how you’re doing right now. God’s not trying to say that he doesn’t love you, he just doesn’t want you to be wearing diapers anymore. Let him do some growing up and maturing work in your life.
Or maybe you don’t believe God and yet you’ve still read all the way to this point. Yes, the God who created the universe really does love you. He “shed” his divinity and “put on” humanity, when he sent his son Jesus Christ to earth, born as a baby boy 2000 years ago. And, after living perfectly for 33 years then he took on all our sin and shame and sickness and all our “old feathers” when he was unfairly betrayed and killed on a wooden cross, being accused as a criminal though he did nothing wrong. And then he was risen from the dead three days later and is alive forever more and is coming back to earth soon to bring all those who trust in him to the place he’s preparing for us in heaven. It’s sort of like he’s giving us accept him as the boss of our lives a whole new set of eagle feathers that we could never deserve. Just like we need to be dressed correctly to be admitted into the fancy dinner party, we each need a new “plumage” (coat of feathers) in order to get into the eternal kingdom of God.
So here’s to some plumage changes so that our youth can be renewed like the eagle’s, both in this life and in the one to come!